Toaru Majutsu no Index:NT Volume20 Chapter 1
Chapter 1: The Unwavering Magic Kingdom and the Pervert – Welcome_Home, A.C!!
The situation was very different from normal.
The Strait of Dover was the entrance to the Eurasian continent. The coast was a beautiful pure white not found anywhere else in the United Kingdom. The land had originally been made of soft limestone. Immediately past the fine white beach were nearly-vertical cliffs that resembled white walls. When the moon was out, the entire land seemed to shine in the moonlight, which should have created a wonderful contrast with the dark ocean.
That was nowhere to be seen.
Everything there was a collection of impurities. Like a beach covered in garbage washed in from a foreign country or like the aftermath of a cargo ship accident, the silhouettes of artificial objects were visible all across the long stretch of coast.
The December sea breeze reached the cheeks of a female knight in charge of protecting that coast. It was cold, but not so cold that the ocean froze over. This place was not as snowy as Santa Claus’s home. The winter wind smelled strongly of the ocean and retained a hint of warmth, but on this night, that gave the disconcerting impression that you were bathing in blood.
The corners of concrete blocks jutted out from the dark ocean.
Several large shields were stabbed into the beach like barricades.
The white beach had been crudely leveled, but was that to hastily bury landmine-like magic circles in the sand?
Several steel beams stuck out from the vertical cliff wall and rose vines were wrapped around those like the barbed wire on the outer wall of a prison.
No, it went beyond ways of obstructing a direct landing.
There were wooden boxes and tanks of supplies, or traps made to look that way. There were rescue tents. There were trenches to hide in when attacks arrived from beyond the horizon. The entire panoramic view was sullied by a massive defensive formation that used both direct and indirect methods.
That beautiful coast was a mere 100km away from the capital city of London. In the most basic and essential way, if they allowed the coast here to fall, the United Kingdom was as good as defeated.
The fine sand of the beach looked like the desert at night in a picture book, but immediately past that, the limestone rose vertically to form the walls of a natural fortress. Some things taller than humans were sticking out of that cliff face.
They were gigantic disks carved with lions’ faces and hunters’ clothing.
Those were swiveling and changing direction much like parabolic antennae. The female knight in silver armor and a surcoat raised her voice.
“Group 3, begin your rest phase! Groups 1 and 2, move to the front!! On my signal, begin simultaneous prayer and charge the emblems ASAP!!”
Each group was made up of more than 100 people and the many nuns lined up in a rectangular formation. Young girls kneeled, folded their hands, and wholeheartedly offered up prayers.
But that was not the source of the power.
Praying to god was fine. But was it right to pray that only you will be saved when faced with a battle and other people needing help? Also, there were saints like Saint Vitus or Saint Julian whose miracles were more or less divine punishment or a curse. You could intentionally trigger that divine punishment and then divert it to a different target in order to attack someone. It could be seen as irreverent, but it was a very human method of systemizing the ability to manipulate the anger of holy ones.
Of course, they had more than one kind of attack.
First of all, the different attack emblems sticking out of the earth were distributed to provide mutual covering fire no matter where an attack arrived. And to fill the slight lag between attacks, completely different forms of magical cannons were prepared: magic mirrors that used Maria Kannon, the wind instruments from Revelation, etc.
The horizontal downpour of attacks was not allowed any gaps as it was released toward the dark sea.
Instead of sniper shots against a point or sweeping attacks along a line, they suppressed the horizon by covering an entire surface.
(I thought we only had to wait until Archbishop Lola could be contacted, but now all I’m hearing is that a search of her residence at Lambeth Palace found instructions describing the hiding places of some trump cards that can turn this around. I know Holegres Mirates is in charge of the investigation, so what is he even doing?)
“…They won’t make it in time.”
Even after all that, those were the only words in the female knight’s heart.
They could defeat the enemy. They could stop them. But the number of enemies pushing back at them was overwhelmingly greater than the amount they could slay. These beasts were large enough to sink a large truck or cargo ship with a tackle and they filled the ocean with enough force to push back against the hail of magical attacks.
The female knight held a single gold coin in her hand.
It was a Beheading Coin. The spiritual item had a horrific name, but it had its origins with a bribe a criminal’s family would pay the executioner back when criminals were beheaded with an axe.
It was a request to give them a quick and painless death.
This spiritual item was a last resort. It would raise one’s concentration and cut off their pain and fear for just a few seconds. It was a “gift of mercy” that allowed its user to choose death without hesitation. It may have been more like portable anesthetic than the final dagger used to put an unsaveable fellow soldier out of their misery.
(These large spiritual items put together by the former Roman Catholics and the Amakusas are pretty impressive, but it’s another sign that this war requires quantity over quality…)
A disconcerting sound that resembled chewing spread throughout her surroundings.
There were concrete blocks and steel beams sticking up from the ocean bottom like a sunken forest. Those were another method of preventing a landing. Your average giant fish or ship would tear a hole in its belly, but that did not work here. This enemy’s belly actually broke, smashed, and crushed the underwater obstacles.
No one had officially named them that, but it had naturally occurred to everyone in the 53 attacked countries.
It was not at all an even fight. Their opponents pushed back against the hail of cannon fire, blew away the ocean turrets and unmanned observation ships, and even cleared away the underwater obstacles in the shallows. They had already arrived that close.
What would happen if those things arrived on land?
Buildings, homes, and reinforced concrete shelters would be meaningless.
They were like a great gluttonous maw.
Their mere presence would destroy everything in England.
While faced with those monsters pushing in from the dark ocean, the female knight drew the sword she wore at her hip. That heroic woman spun around the moonlit blade and did not hesitate to raise her voice.
“Main Knights unit, forward!! Our target is the Crowley’s Hazards. Groups B through D. Engage them as soon as they arrive on land. The noncombat prayer unit borrowed from the Anglicans should fall back immediately!!”
Several thundering footsteps reached that limestone land.
The knights’ chances were irrelevant. Whether they wielded swords, spears, axes, clubs, or metal balls, they found magical meaning in their weapons and combined extreme physical training with miracles and the mystical as they faced their enemy.
“Now this is a battle worth fighting.”
“Everyone, how about we see who can slay the most?”
The female knight in the lead answered that brave suggestion with a fierce smile.
A moment later, those warfighters jumped down the limestone cliff to the beach like a bursting silver flash.
“This ain’t good.”
That carefree voice could be heard at about 500 meters up.
A unit of Anglican witches rode their brooms lower than the clouds so they would have a clear view.
“The cannon fire is stopping. What’s this, what’s this? Are they hoping to buy time however they can while falling back to regroup? I’ll admit they do have several lines of defense set up like a baumkuchen, but still.”
“The enemy is definitely reaching land now. Our recon isn’t really needed anymore, is it?”
“We’re up against an army of the eccentric Crowley, right? It looks like they can just do whatever they want, so I really want to avoid having one shoot its tongue out at me like a chameleon. How about we get out of here???”
They were more selfish than the girls in plain nun habits acting as the prayer unit on the coast, but that may have been why they had settled on being witches.
However, not everything was peaceful for those witches in the wind.
They saw a bright light beyond the darkness.
“This ain’t good.” The broom-riding witch did not sound particularly worried. “Curse Greater London. They’ve activated the triple-quadruple final barrier. Oh, honestly. And we’re still outside the castle gate. Are they cutting off our escape route as a way to demand we fight to the death for our country? Flying over the ocean is reckless enough, but we’re done for if we have our power of flight taken while over land!”
“That guy in charge of defense back there must be the premature type. And it apparently doesn’t matter if you’re from the Knights or the Anglicans. We’re all being used as sacrificial pawns.”
“You mean Holegres Mirates from the Knights? I just hope whoever’s in charge isn’t getting their ass kicked by everyone there. So what do we do? Give up on everything and start rooting for the Crowleys?”
Despite his words, the young boy’s footsteps were as accurate as clockwork. The hem of his baggy habit dragged on the floor behind him. No honorable poverty, piety, or purity could be found in him. The scent of someone who made a living through killing was too strong for any other concepts to apply. More than the various forms of magic he wore, it seemed like a disturbing ritual that his very existence was allowed within the church’s teachings. Or perhaps if he made a single mistake, the spell would be broken and that young boy would be the one burned at the stake.
He belonged to Necessarius, the 0th Parish of the Anglican Church.
His name was Nics Everblind.
His first name was taken from words like bionics and electronics, so it was clear that he was a magician who specialized in some kind of technological or academic field.
Arms and legs were roughly tossed into umbrella stands. Organs dangled from the ceiling by chains like some kind of meat being smoked. But the young boy ignored all of that as he approached a closet made of black oak. When he threw open the double doors, dozens and maybe hundreds of solid sparkles stared back at his juvenile face.
And “stared” was not a figurative expression.
The shelves lined with soft velvet were covered with glass eyes.
“They said ‘unrestricted’, so I can use whatever I want. I can even go with that one I normally hold back on. This is incredible. It really is an emergency. #49, #51…oh, but I hate to miss a chance to use #65.”
For an instant – just an instant – he was tempted to grab as many as he could carry and bring them all with him, but that would be meaningless. These were cutting-edge products processed with paints that would destroy a biological eye. No matter how powerful and unparalleled a spiritual item was, a tool was still a tool. They were useless if he could not properly attach them.
Attach them to his own body, that is.
He was a magician who focused on signs. And in his case, it was the magical symbols that could be represented with a single body. But what was he to do when he reached the limit of what he could express with his own arms and legs? The answer was obvious to him, but if his method’s usefulness became widely accepted, it would lead to an age where magicians severed their own arms and legs and dragged out their own organs.
The young boy’s one eye moved back and forth like the ticking of a clock, but he finally moved his baggy sleeves and grabbed one item from his collection. And he held it up like the medallions or cards a child his age would normally collect.
“#77: Shiva Imitation. Yes, this is the best option.”
Eye powers came in a variety of forms – petrifying the body, filling a heart with wickedness, reducing luck, etc. – but what the young boy had chosen was not excessively powerful.
Shiva’s eye could see through to the evil of the world and learn if it was the proper time to destroy it.
In other words, it was simply the appropriate time.
Even a child could tell just by looking out the window. And despite how he looked, he was not that pure.
“Honestly, the world truly is doomed if people start glorifying destruction at the hand of god.”
He stuck the necessary prosthetic eye in his eye socket, opened the door, and ran out into the polished marble hallway. Several suitcases cut by in front of him. The curves carved into the surface may have been a sigilized name. They were following around a blonde maid like baby ducks, but those suitcases were not products of the science side full of semiconductors and sensors. Tea-serving dolls that carried a specific item had been perfectly normal even in Edo-period Japan. The fly in the ointment was that they may have been given insufficient teaching because the small bags would fall out of line and get lost and the large bags would loudly bang into each other when they got too close or competed over the best route.
“Hey, stop that! Don’t fight over me!”
The woman tried shouting at them, but she must not have expected much from it. Eventually, the surprisingly muscular maid knocked the suitcases onto their sides, stacked them up, and carried them herself. As the maid began to leave like a busy pizza deliverer or a librarian returning books to the shelves, the prosthetic eye magician called out to her.
“Hello, Ms. Catacombs.”
“Yes, do you need something?”
Since she would use that arm strength of hers on him if he carelessly called her “miss”, the maid was approaching the precipice in a number of ways. At her age, she wanted to meet some normal people, not the freaks you found in the magic industry.
“I have an apocalyptic eye in right now, so try not to look at my face too much. Even if it is fake.”
“Oh, do you need to make some adjustments? If a single is good enough, I have a few individual soundproofed rooms open, so I could place you into immediate meditation.”
In other words, all of those things that looked like suitcases were actually “coffins” meant to stuff people inside. There was enough padding between to make them into ultra-compact soundproofed environments. Soundproofed environments the size of phone booths were advertised for people to practice the violin in their apartment, but this was an even more advanced version of that.
“No, not that,” cut in the boy. “And how are the coffins ever supposed to learn if you carry them yourself?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It is because they can’t live up to my expectations that I have no choice but to do this.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud noise that sounded like the building’s materials being cut or even torn away. They looked over to see a smiling young wife in glasses who held a thick leash. However, the thing struggling on the polished marble floor (which was reflective enough to put the women’s panties in a dangerous position!) was not a quadruped. It was a red and rusty circular blade similar but different to a carpenter’s circular saw. British history was a history of decapitations. It was obvious what would happen if that irregularly-struggling blade reached you.
Just as it had been believed that the mandrake grew from a criminal’s bodily fluids, impurities could gain special powers when transformed. You could think of this as a collection of sword rust. Thanks to their troubled history, this prized product was packed full of the grudges of the royal and privileged.
The young wife(?) in glasses only had affection in her eyes.
“Hee hee hee. Sorry about that. My adorable little Alps is so naughty she won’t listen to anything I say.”
“…Oh, no. Now I’m really scared,” said the young boy.
“If you want to curl up, I could lend you a coffin.”
While the three of them chatted, they each held a Beheading Coin in their hand and made their way toward the exit.
Westminster Abbey was used for official ceremonies by the royal family. At the moment, the carriage stopped next to it was shaped like a ridiculously-large pumpkin. And one step outside that door brought them to the center of London, making it the most important location for enemy and ally alike.
“Welcome back, Crowley. Welcome to London, the city of fog, magic, and battle. Do not underestimate the depths of this great magic kingdom. Now, let’s do this, you pervert! You monsters who have even cast aside your human forms!!”
Welcome to the end times.
A second national crisis had arrived to follow the British Halloween.
We’re so dead.
It was December in England and he was soaking wet on the beach in the middle of the night. Kamijou Touma was all alone and he could not find anything to do besides hide behind a small rock like a crab.
(We got separated almost immediately, Aleister!! I have no idea what to do without you around and where did Index and Othinus end up!?)
There was also the fact that he had crossed who-knows-how-many national borders without a passport, but he had already been corrupted when it came to that. After traveling around the world fighting powerful men like something from a fighting game, that spiky-haired boy saw far too much of the world as his own backyard.
He was not surprised at all to find his cellphone had no signal.
And he doubted that was simply due to being in a foreign country. Since they were fighting a war, information was probably being blocked for civilians. He was in a warzone. He only wanted to live a peaceful life, but that fact finally caught up to him here.
“Eh heh heh. I want to eat sprouts. Yes, just dump a bunch of sprouts in a frying pan, add some salt and pepper for flavor, cook them to a nice sizzle, and then fill my stomach with sprouts. Eh heh heh heh heh…”
When people were faced with a situation they could not handle, they would try to escape into their past. Although the fact that this made him fantasize about a pile of sprouts said something about his lifestyle.
He had made it this far on momentum, but what was he supposed to do now? What would he eat? Where would he sleep? Would he have to walk the entire way? Without riding a train? When the reality of the situation suddenly hit him, Kamijou grew pale and patted his pockets, but his wallet only had 72 yen inside. He could not imagine how he would get that mere pocket change converted into British currency.
(Dammit, wait. I have to stay calm. Not many people will have realized that Lola is Coronzon. Someone needs to do something. Argh, I just want to do something about that demon and save Aleister’s daughter, so why do I have to fight against these decent British people!?)
A heavy straining sound reached him from beyond the small boulder.
It was surprisingly close by.
Not even ten meters away, a dignified female knight in a surcoat and silver armor was swinging around a double-edged sword while a monk in a black tailcoat fought back using the various staffs he held in his many arms. He would have originally been a Westerner, but the bald man looked something like a many-armed Buddhist statue. He pressed two hands together in front of his chest, jabbed the bottom of the staffs in from multiple angles like bullets, and fought on seemingly even footing with the British knight.
The knight’s blade flipped around and chopped off one of the bald man’s arms.
The battle continued in her favor from there. She pushed in like an avalanche.
But that was not enough.
She could not spend so much time on each individual battle. England’s defense unit had been losing from the moment they failed to push back the Crowley’s Hazards covering the ocean. If they could not swiftly slice through each individual monster like it was no more than a weed, they would be surrounded and swallowed up by the never-ending stream of enemy reinforcements.
With the sound of something soft being torn apart, the many-armed tailcoat man swelled out from within and burst. The Crowley transformed into an octopus large enough to pick up a semi truck and the silver-armored female knight gave another flash of her sword. One of the tentacles was immediately sliced to pieces, a strange sticky liquid stained the white beach, and the course of attack shifted somewhat. After failing to defeat the female knight, the octopus mercilessly smashed the small boulder Kamijou was hiding behind.
A suspicious aura arrived from the female knight.
This was no time to just silently shiver in the British December weather. His one and only chance to escape was while the dust of fine sand and broken limestone filled the air. He did not even bother getting up as he crawled behind another rock nearby. He felt just like a bug running in fear from some bug spray.
He heard more of that straining sound and found it did indeed come from that Crowley’s Hazard. Each tentacle was thicker than his torso and they were covered with elliptical suckers. Except no. Those were eyes, noses, and mouths. They were gnashing their teeth in search of flesh and blood to bite, tear, and swallow.
Aleister seemed capable of controlling the bizarre Crowleys to a certain extent, but this boy did not have that same control. In fact, this looked like a cross between a bloated corpse and a giant octopus and it did not even have the appropriate number of tentacles, so did it even understand human language? Kamijou had no idea which of the many chattering faces to speak to. He felt like a circus member finding himself surrounded by the lions and tigers backstage while the animal tamer was away. And for the British people trying to preserve peace, Kamijou Touma would be seen as a bastard who showed up with Aleister, so even if he said he wanted to drive out Great Demon Coronzon and rescue Lola, would any of those diligent British people believe him right away?
Kamijou Touma was like the bat who could not be a bird or a beast, so he was already on the verge of tears.
Think. He had to think.
(No matter what anyone says, England is England. Isn’t there anyone I know around here!?)
His weak heart could only search for friends.
His cellphone still had no signal, so he did his best to look around from behind the small boulder. He caught a glimpse of some people on top of the white cliff. They seemed to be girls in black habits. He focused his eyes as if praying and tried to find a familiar face.
(Those habits…yes, the zippers make them look like the Roman Catholic ones. No, wait. Could it be…? Yes, it is! That’s the former Agnese Force! …Okay, found them!! There’s Lucia and Angelene!! Wow, how can I be so lucky!?)
Kamijou Touma was a hopeless bastard since he was on the villain’s side, he had entered the country illegally, and he was sneaking behind cover like a bug, but things were sure to take a turn for the better if he could speak with someone he knew instead of a complete stranger. As he focused on those lateral connections, the spiky-haired boy transformed into a filthy hand-rubbing and bowing boy as he prepared to call out to the top of the cliff. But the exact moment before he did so, the chilly December wind carried a voice down to him.
“I’ll kill them!!!!! Damn that god-forsaken pervert army! I will never let them set foot in our second home. Oh, god, they’re so sticky and gross. I’m going to sterilize everything and everyone related to them!!”
“P-please calm down, Sister Lucia. If we fall back and set up a proper defensive line, we should be much more successful here. So a strategic withdrawal is the best way to kill as many of those perverts as efficiently as possible.”
Kamijou Touma froze with his lips forming the “h” of “hey”.
After shrinking back down, the spiky-haired boy gave up on joining them. He did not know English, but the tone had been impossible to misinterpret. With the way those girls were shouting, he was certain anyone they deemed on the enemy’s side would be sliced to pieces right away. That reminded him that Lucia was something of an extreme clean freak, so she would never forgive someone she saw as the friend of a pervert. Kamijou Touma should have been more suspicious from the moment he thought he might be lucky.
Then a surprisingly shrill scream rang from the beach.
It was the female knight in the silver armor and surcoat. She must have rushed things and pushed too far ahead. The giant octopus could probably crush a dump truck with its tentacles and one of those gave a horizontal swing that hit the female knight’s lower body. She was thrown tumbling through the air and her back slammed into the fine sand of the ground. Kamijou did not know what kind of magical effects her armor provided, but he doubted she would be getting back up anytime soon. It was a miracle that hit hadn’t snapped her spine like a game of daruma otoshi.
He could not afford to be found.
He could not stand before them.
The female knight swung her sword one-handed while lying on her back, but the giant tentacle swung down from above as if to crush her. The sword slammed back down on her breastplate with twice the force of her own swing and the blade snapped. Her arms and legs convulsed like a giant stake had been driven into her heart, but yet another attack came her way. Dry sounds of destruction continued as the aforementioned “suckers” chewed through the armor and surcoat. The cracked metal armor broke and the cloth placed within the joints to protect her skin was torn. It no longer mattered how well-equipped she had been. All that remained was perfectly-normal underclothes and the feminine skin below that thin material.
With a sound much deeper and violent than swinging a metal bat, a tentacle thicker than Kamijou’s torso was raised once more.
No. No. I can’t.
Kamijou held a hand over his mouth and struggled with himself behind the small boulder, but then something occurred to him.
Even if they had branched out across so many “what ifs”, that Crowley was still Crowley, right? He recalled what he had seen during the pursuit of A. O. Francisca. That eccentric had thrown him into a love hotel just because they needed a quiet place to work.
Even the silver girl had been like that and this Crowley was a seafood festival covered in tentacles and suckers.
Its opponent was a girl. So what would happen to the loser?
Now, are you excited yet?
“Show some self restraint, you morooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!!”
Kamijou raised his voice.
He ran out and used the element of surprise to punch that tentacle, but then he realized something.
The Crowley’s Hazards had branched out from so many “what if” possibilities, but they apparently did actually exist. So unlike normal magic, they could not be negated with a punch from Imagine Breaker. He felt a squishy feeling like he had punched a water bed. He suddenly recalled that nothing had happened to the silver girl Aleister when she sat on his lap.
But the female knight was in full hostile mode as she pulled away the staff holding her head down, covered her bared chest, and glared tearfully at him.
He could not be a bird or a beast.
Kamijou Touma the Bat had reached the limits of his precarious situation.
With a wet explosive sound, a red liquid sprayed out.
But the spiky-haired boy had not had an arm or a leg blown off.
It was the monster that looked like a cross between a bloated corpse and a giant octopus. Most of it had been entirely blown away. The Crowley’s Hazard may not have noticed it had lost its organs because it stood still while hemorrhaging a strange sticky liquid like a fountain. Meanwhile, a white figure landed next to it.
It was Academy City’s #1.
Accelerator sounded irritated.
“…What are you playing around for you, goddammit?”
“Don’t lose your nerve over me killing these things. I don’t know if they’re really him or not, but why the hell should I stop myself from killing the Board Chairman?”
He spat out the words in utter annoyance and did not hesitate to kick away the corpse that had lost its organs. Kamijou Touma was an atheist, but he still would not want to take the flowers placed at someone’s grave. This act bothered some vague idea lodged somewhere in his heart.
The white remained unsullied.
The fountain-like spray was repelled from the monster like a waterproof coat.
And Kamijou was not the only one surprised by the turn of events. While sitting on the beach and holding an arm over her broken silver breastplate, the female knight stared wide-eyed at them and shouted something in English.
“Who the hell are you? You don’t look like normal people, but surely you aren’t with the Crowley’s Haz-…!”
There was a quiet sound.
Accelerator flicked something with his thumb and it hit the female knight in the forehead. It seemed to be a flat front tooth taken from one of the octopus’s crushed faces. The female knight’s head wobbled a bit and then she collapsed motionless onto the fine sand.
“Swinging around a broken sword and refusing to listen? Just how badly did the apocalypse hit this country? …Since it’s wartime, it looks like they aren’t going to treat outsiders like human beings. They’ve let that Lola Stuart person blind them. It does indeed look like we’ll have to defeat them as we go.”
Their doubts were not entirely off base, but the strongest did not bother worrying about it.
Kamijou Touma looked incredibly sad as he grabbed a plastic tarp and placed it over the knight’s chest.
“…Do I really not look like a normal person needing help…?”
“No one’s gonna call you normal if you can remain so calm during this apocalypse.”
Several more liquid explosions blossomed elsewhere.
The scary part was that not all them were colored red.
Blood sprayed again and again. A beetle, some gas, a humanoid form made from thick chains and round metal balls, and a carnivorous dinosaur covered in rusty armor panels all sank into the beach while a silver girl stood at the center of those bizarre forms.
That person wore a wide-brimmed hat and cape over a blue blazer uniform.
She was Magician Aleister Crowley.
“I’m back in England, home of Bunny Gray. Yay!”
And since they both wanted to defeat Coronzon, she (he?) was accompanied by Karasuma Fran as if the hoodie bikini girl was a bodyguard.
“Hold on. Why are you sending cellphone signals all over the place? Either turn it off or remove the battery.”
“Eh?” said Kamijou. “It doesn’t have a signal, so what does it matter?”
“The civilian phones are being restricted, but the official calls for the police and firefighters work just fine. And they can work out your location even with the restrictions in place. You must be suicidal to scatter signals like that when you’re trying to infiltrate the country.”
He doubted he could win an argument against the antenna-covered former UFO girl. Setting aside his pride and obediently obeying was one of Kamijou Touma’s few good points.
Accelerator brought a hand to his choker. He seemed to be checking on it, but Kamijou did not have the guts to ask for details.
Girl Aleister gave a wicked smile.
“So I’ve collected Kamijou Touma as well. That is good news.”
“Wait, those monsters are your fellow Crowleys, aren’t they!? But you’ll still kill them!?”
“After all the trouble I’ve caused others in my life, do you really think I’m going to go easy on myself? Besides, if I was smart enough to pull my hand back from the fire for fear of burning myself, I wouldn’t have started this offensive war.”
Despite what she said, Aleister showed no mercy on others either. When some silver-armored knights noticed the oddity, she held her hand out toward them and unilaterally beat them down with the illusionary swords, guns, or whatever else of Spiritual Tripping. …Since only the target could see those weapons, was she actually cautious of Kamijou and the others despite what she said?
In a way, this was a completely different direction from the illusion-breaking boy’s right hand.
It was a completed method that gave physical form to illusions and sent them out into the world.
“I will contain the recoil of my own magic. That is my way of taking responsibility, but, well, that makes this awfully convenient. Sharing the battlefield with so many versions of myself allows me to send that recoil all over the place without having to harm anyone else.”
Two people stood next to wickedly-smiling Aleister: Index in her white and gold teacup habit and Magic God Othinus sitting on the nun’s shoulder.
“…I’ve never heard of this recoil. Are you really, really sure it’s real?”
“I do approve of facing the world of magic with constant skepticism, but do not let your doubts lead you astray. You carry 103,000 grimoires…plus one more from Mina Mathers. But even the perfect database is useless if you do not know how to use the search engine. Even after gathering all that information, you have not covered all the blind spots.”
Kamijou blinked in confusion and asked a question.
“Hey, we’re missing some people. What happened to Hamazura and that girl called, um, Takitsubo?”
“I sent up a balloon covered in cameras, but I haven’t located them yet. The cliff is made of fragile limestone, so they might have escaped into a cave eroded by the waves.”
“You were complaining about my phone earlier, but what about his phone?”
“…You’re the only one careless enough to keep your phone on in a warzone.”
Fran sounded both apologetic and exasperated. If you converted her words into saying she had sent out a drone to do a search of the surface, you could sense more of that Tsuchimikado-style darkness and less of the eccentric former UFO girl. The way she did things was like using curry powder or mayonnaise to hide the bitterness of a poison.
Meanwhile, Aleister was entirely carefree.
“Not even I am perfect. In the worst case, they were crushed by the Crowley’s Hazards that are only focused on killing, but in the next worst case, they could have been captured by the Knights. I suppose the best case is that they are hiding somewhere like you were.”
“…And why aren’t you suggesting we search for them, you utter failure?”
“Do you not remember what I said a mere 30 seconds ago, you poor student? I am not perfect and I have my stamina to worry about. Plus, that #1 has his choker battery. If we continually wear ourselves down on the front line, this beach will be our graveyard. And if that happens, we will have no way to search for your missing friends.”
“He will have learned the bare minimum of ‘etiquette’ from his life in the back alleys of Academy City, so I suspect they are already in infiltration mode. I suggest we hide ourselves and preserve our energy for another time. If we are going to search for someone, we should choose the more likely method.”
Kamijou turned toward Accelerator and Karasuma Fran, but the #1 did not seem interested and the hoodie bikini girl only nodded. She seemed to support Aleister’s idea that they should avoid having the search team wiped out by secondary damages.
The human giggled.
“And as dry as it may seem, the more likely method would be to make our way to London. Everything in this country is gathered there. If they were captured, they will be taken there. And even if they are left here on the Dover beaches, we can search more easily by gathering information in London where all information inevitably ends up. …We could even intentionally have the Knights capture Hamazura Shiage and Takitsubo Rikou while we lie in wait to rescue them in London.”
“…How likely is that to succeed?”
“Unknown,” answered Aleister while sticking out her tongue.
That Board Chairman had incorporated failure and defeat into her plan. That human had lived a life entirely devoid of guaranteed successes.
“I believe I already told you that I am not kind. I also said I will not spend any time on you. Thus, this marks the end of your childhood where you can simply follow the rails laid out for you. If you have an objective, figure out how to get off the train yourself. Take responsibility for your own life and figure out the most efficient spot to jump off.”
Crack open the hard plastic.
Connect the colorful cables that pop out like a tuft of hair and you’re done.
“Good, it’s running, it’s running. …England’s car security sure is crap. Anyway, Takitsubo, fasten your seatbelt.”
It was a large four-wheel drive vehicle that was abandoned on the beach. In addition to an attachment on the roof for skis or a canoe, it had bulky metal bars attached to all four sides, making it look something like a birdcage.
“What is this?” asked Takitsubo.
“It’s a lot like what they use in Australia in case they crash into a kangaroo. In England, I’m guessing they’re more afraid of sheep or something running out onto the road…”
“Even though it’s a developed nation and a holy land of soccer?”
“Away from the big cities like London, it should be pretty tranquil.”
While they conversed, Hamazura Shiage turned the large steering wheel and drove the big four-wheel drive vehicle across the white sandy beach. They had actually been dropped right into a safe area that felt a lot like the eye of the storm. Their phones sat on the dashboard with the SIM cards removed. His general plan was to assist Aleister in exchange for a guarantee of their safety, but that had fallen apart now that they were separated from Aleister. That said, he didn’t have the courage to run through the explosion-filled coastal battlefield while shouting that name.
In other words…
“Time to retreat. I don’t care where, but let’s get somewhere that’s safe. We can search for Aleister once things have calmed down some.”
He might sound awfully dismissive of Aleister, but when he had to weigh the Board Chairman against his girlfriend, it was obvious which one he would choose. His top priority was making sure no stray bullets hit that zoned-out bob-cut girl in a pink track suit and sweater. It all came down to that.
“Actually, what are we even doing here?” asked Hamazura.
“I think we were fighting for love and peace or something, but we lost our guide.”
They did know how to contact the others, so it was all the more frustrating that they could not use their phones. Of course, assuming those others were not complete morons, they would have shut off their phones too, so using a payphone was not an option either.
Yes, these two had been partially clever.
Had it been fortunate or unfortunate that they had quickly hid below this four-wheel drive vehicle’s roof?
They showed no sign of knowing Fran had sent out a balloon to search for them from the air.
The vehicle had a manual transmission, which was growing rare in modern times. If the owner had wanted to make full use of the four-wheel drive when climbing steep slopes, they may not have wanted an automatic that would change gears on its own. Just like with a computer’s enter key, Hamazura thought he looked kind of cool operating the shift lever himself. …Of course, he would have just found it annoying if his girlfriend was not sitting right next to him.
“Hamazura. Where exactly will we go?”
“To be honest, I don’t know anything about England. Does this car not have a GPS? There’s a holder, but nothing in it. Did the owner use a smartphone app? Takitsubo, check the dashboard just to be sure. There might be a paper map.”
“Reading a paper map would make me carsick.”
“Then are you asking me to spread the map out in front of me while I drive?”
“Hey, don’t start snuggling up against me here.”
“…Then where do you want me to do it, Hamazura?”
(I’d love to let this get me excited, but I’m more curious where she learned to say things like that! If she says she’s been practicing in front of the mirror, I think something inside me is gonna explode!!)
This was not Japan’s Academy City. This was the truly free land of England where Devil Mugino and Imp Kinuhata’s watchful eyes were nowhere to be found. They were entirely alone. And inside a stolen car on the beach at night! Not even Hamazura himself knew how far things would go between these two lovers now that no one was around to stop them!!
They were supposedly alone here, but he sensed an ominous presence within their safe territory.
“Oh? In that case, I recommend going to the capital city of London.”
The four-wheel drive vehicle swerved unnaturally along the beach and just about crashed into a rock sticking up from the sand. It was not as bad as an icy road, but slamming on the brakes was still a bad idea on sand.
The rearview mirror reflected the face of a woman with silver hair and brown skin.
A pale girl in a mini-China dress pressed her cheek against the woman’s, making the scene in the mirror look like a crazy costume party.
“Ugh, there’s way too much moisture. I can’t stand the sea breeze. Can you dry out the air with the air conditioner?”
“For a damp crying woman, you really do have trouble with moisture, Nephthys.”
The two cackled in the back seat and their presence was enough to make Hamazura feel like he had stumbled into another world.
“You only have to think about it from his perspective. Instead of running around randomly hoping to find him, you’ll have more luck figuring out where he’s likely to go and getting there ahead of him.”
“And London is definitely the center of this entire conflict☆ Given your relationship value with Aleister, there’s no way he’ll stay on the beach forever just because he got separated from you two.”
“Wha-wha-wha-…?” stammered Hamazura as he failed to operate the clutch, stalled out the vehicle, and could not get it started again. “Who even are you two!? Your aura is enough to know you’re bad news!!”
“I am Magic God Nephthys and she is Magic God Niang-Niang.”
“To be clear, we’re in a position even deeper than the Lost Continent of Mu or whatever. You should rejoice that you get to be a witness of this age. Wa ha ha ha!!”
Niang-Niang’s mini-China dress left her flat chest and bright thighs in a dangerous position, but she actually raised her hands and stretched her back as if showing off her slender body. He did not know how rare these people were, but he seriously hoped someone would do something about the silent eruption of killer intent coming from Takitsubo in the passenger seat.
“Why are you tagging along with us?” he asked. “Don’t you realize I just found myself in the dream-like situation of taking a vacation with my girlfriend where no one can interfere!? Plus, we’re in Europe! Europe! Just look at that gloomy aura coming from the passenger seat. Why do I have to make up for something some complete strangers have done!?”
“Oh, sorry about that.” The silver-haired beauty had her curvy brown body wrapped in nothing but bandages (did that even count as clothing?) and she held Niang-Niang to her large chest. “We were just selecting the best person for our needs. I mean, World Rejecter had taken us to the perfect playground of endless battle, but then we were dragged back here again.”
“Then again, it looks like that’s going to let us come in contact with something interesting, so we were hoping to find some way of killing time until then☆”
…This was starting to sound dangerous. It was like hearing Mugino talk when something began quietly boiling in the depths of her heart.
“Hey. Let me ask this again: why us?”
“Because you had the weakest motivation,” nonchalantly replied bandaged brown Nephthys. “Kamijou Touma, Accelerator, and the people around them have too clear a goal in mind, so they wouldn’t be very interesting for observers like us. And Aleister is completely out of the question, of course. Follow him around and his viewpoint would bring too great a bias to monitor things properly. You might not think it, but I am quick to tears. Although I do feel somewhat bad since he is putting so much effort into it.”
“And we don’t really want to follow around the Anglicans when they’re being actualized by Coronzon.”
“Yes, Aleister and Coronzon would both see Magic Gods like us in a hostile light.”
“Right? They probably hate how indifferent we are about fortune and misfortune in the world.”
Human body pillow Niang-Niang sounded carefree, but a bad feeling only continued to grow inside Hamazura. It was unusual for him to feel more and more worried the more something was explained to him.
“Observer? Monitor? …Does that mean there’s something else you’ll be watching?”
“Yes, a number of things.” Nephthys giggled, rubbed her cheek against Niang-Niang’s face, and spoke in an alluring way. “One of those things is Great Demon Coronzon thanks to that secret agreement with Mathers, but the acts of humanity are much more interesting. Take the magic kingdom of England for example. They seem to be hiding something quite fascinating even from the perspective of gods like us. At the very least, this cocktail is far nastier than the Maria Kannon.”
It was like the world of a picture book.
Balloons larger than balance balls were gathered like a bunch of grapes above Kamijou Touma’s head. The wires hanging down from each one were combined to support a basket made of surprisingly sturdy paper.
They were leisurely floating through the air on a hot-air balloon journey. Their speed was much less noticeable than when traveling on the surface, but it probably worked out to 30 or 40 km/h. However, they may have decided this had better odds of taking them to London than if they made a risky and exciting car chase.
“It is about 100km from Dover to London.”
It had taken more than just Karasuma Fran to set this up.
“I mentioned I had set foot in Kamakura Japan before, didn’t I?” The wicked girl who had done most of the work sounded carefree. “Japan’s origami has as many diverse uses as their furoshiki. With a bit of cleverness, the shape and strength can be altered to your needs and it can even be used to contain a satellite’s solar panels in a limited space. I do have to wonder if that country derives pleasure from throwing out all of their strong points. As someone who was treated so poorly in England, France, Italy, and America, I can’t help but laugh whenever I hear someone bragging that what they’ve done is ‘normal in the West’.”
The rocking handmade hot-air balloon contained Kamijou Touma and the others from their England invasion party. Even from that elevated vantage point, they saw no sign of Hamazura and Takitsubo.
“An RV, a cruiser, and now a hot-air balloon… It’s anything goes with you, isn’t it?”
“Whether I was rich or poor, my life was always controlled by money. But more recently, I was Academy City’s Board Chairman. I have hidden assets stashed all around the world. Yes, if I gathered them all together, I could probably buy up the entire EU now that it has declined from the back-to-back conflicts of British Halloween, World War Three, and the Magic God Siege in Denmark.”
“Can’t we get some help from those Crowley’s Hazards? A lot of them had wings.”
“Setting aside issues of control, a lot of those are evil dragons covered in deadly poison or aircraft filled with deadly mold. They generally carry nothing more than a desire to kill and harm, so even if we can use them, we should never try to tame them.”
They traveled through England’s night at such a leisurely pace it was hard to believe a war was raging.
Index remained silent as she stared into the darkness below. What was on her mind as she viewed that land covered in the fires of war?
Meanwhile, Aleister barely seemed to care.
“Let’s avoid Canterbury. Ensuring we arrive in London takes precedence, even if it means taking a bit of a detour on the way.”
“What’s in Canterbury?”
Kamijou tilted his head and Othinus breathed a sigh of exasperation from her spot on his shoulder.
“…Do you know nothing of the opponent you’re about to fight? The Anglican Church’s official headquarters, Canterbury Cathedral, is there.”
“If you travel straight to the capital city London from the ocean entrance of Dover, you will pass through there,” explained Index. “It is obvious why they chose that location.”
A moment later, a red line shot from a steeple on the surface and swept across the night sky. Kamijou jumped a bit, as if lightning had struck a nearby tree, but Aleister only scoffed.
The magician identified the attack while viewing that frightening blast of highly pressurized water.
“The miracle of Thomas Becket’s blood, hm? Do not worry. They have not located us.” That human wagged her finger and winked. “I went out of my way to mobilize Karasuma Fran so we could fly in a non-magical fashion. Magician Aleister Crowley is a magician, so they will expect me to rely on magic. …All the supplies in the world are useless if the people operating them do not know how to think.”
Aleister spoke as if humming a strange lullaby while she looked into the darkness past the basket’s edge.
“You never change, England. You may have entered the new millennium, but the dawn is still a long way off. Nothing has changed since those days you believed those philistine newspaper reporters who failed to see the essence of things and made a fuss about how I was a ‘pervert’ and a ‘ghoul’. If you act the intellectual while failing to look at things with your own eyes and failing to do the work with your own hands, you will never sweep away the darkness before your eyes.”
“Th-then what was that?”
“England is a magic kingdom. So much so that the Anglican Church has grown endlessly bloated as the group that cracks down on such things. If no one but the Anglicans used magic, they would have no reason to exist. The Daybreak, the Noon, the Blazing Sun, the Sunset, the Dusk, the Pole Star, the Eclipse, the Sunspot, and the Dawn-Colored. So many magic cabals have split from my much-maligned Golden cabal like so much spray, so one of them was likely sending out a familiar to gather information. And it was mistaken for us and shot down. …Flight is a fragile thing, but why do those on the side of justice not realize that the more they punish it, the more people will do it just to spite them?”
Every once in a while, that sinister red light would slice through the night sky, but Aleister did not seem worried as they slipped through that air-defense network.
“But where in England is this weakness of Coronzon who you say is sealed in Academy City? London does sound likely since it’s the capital city, but should we really skip past this city? The Anglican headquarters are there, right?”
“Are you asking if I have a reason to skip the meaningful-sounding Canterbury and immediately attack London, the most populated part of the country?”
There would apparently be no stopping Great Demon Coronzon once they reappeared, but Kamijou did not want to fight an all-out war with England either. He wanted to hurry up and resolve the Lola and Coronzon problem so they could end all the chaos. For that reason, he wanted to avoid skipping somewhere and delaying the discovery of something important.
But Aleister seemed to have an idea.
“It is true that Canterbury’s security is quite strict. But if you have some insurance in case of trouble, would you really leave it at your headquarters? That would be like sticking your usual wallet and your emergency funds in the same bag before heading out into the city at night while traveling overseas. Would you really leave everything in one place, where it could all be lost at once if something happened?”
The hot-air balloon looked like something out of a picture book and it slowly circled around the city which looked like a mass of dark shadows with all of its lights off. Based on that, the people there may have been using terms like “martial law” and “blackout” as if they were normal.
Kamijou narrowed his eyes a bit while looking at Canterbury which looked like a dark hole in the ground thanks to the large-scale blackout. Back at Tokyo, Academy City may have looked similar while shut down with Lola Stuart trapped inside.
The area directly below them was apparently made up of pastures.
He saw something like twisted barricades set up at irregular intervals.
“That is the England-Londinium Fortress. …The outer edge of it, that is.”
Kamijou was not quite sure where that name came from.
The occasional flickering lights he saw seemed to be from torches rather than any kind of electric lights. They saw more and more layers of the same as they continued. If it had all been visible at once, it might have looked like tree rings or a baumkuchen with London in the center.
“They’re crop circles,” said the hoodie bikini girl. “Like the ones Bunny Gray makes!”
“What? Why? Are the Anglican’s researching UFOs?”
“Of course not.” Aleister sounded exasperated. “You refer to unnatural flattened grass found in the middle of fields, but that level of mystery has been spoken of since the days when heads were removed by guillotine. Although at the time, it was believed they were the aftermath of fairies dancing and they were only a few meters wide at the largest. These days, they are lifted up alongside Nessie as unexplainable phenomena and they have grown much larger in order to compete with the Nazca Lines that most people have only ever seen in pictures online. Most of them are just local kids having fun knocking down wheat and ruining the farmer’s hard work.”
“What’s your point?”
Aleister had given up on explaining and seemed satisfied just complaining, so it was Othinus who answered from the boy’s shoulder. She clung to Kamijou’s ear with both hands and softly spoke into it.
“The mysterious sign of flattened grass has been spoken of throughout history, but the theorized cause changes from era to era. Most photographed crop circles are only children wanting attention, just like the Cottingley Fairies, but there are some that are not so easily explained. The group on the ground has artificially recreated that so they can control these grasslands with a single command and create a long wall made of dried grass.”
The idea of a dried grass wall did not really make sense to Kamijou. It was true England would not have had time to build their own Great Wall of China one stone at a time from the moment the army of Crowleys crossed the ocean to attack, so they would have needed an easier method. But would that really be strong enough? It only made him think of the first bastard to have his house taken out in The Three Little Pigs. Unlike Aleister, Kamijou did not want a direct clash between England and the Crowley’s Hazards. He would love it if a wall could keep that monster army out, so he would prefer they had made one out of a harder and thicker material like brick or steel.
But Accelerator spoke up in annoyance.
“…The people who made that wall must be insane. They’ve set it up so they can dump oil or something on the people trying to climb the thick wall and then toss a torch down to take them out.”
“Fire has long been a surefire method of destroying a corpse and stripping the dead of their honor. It is the best way of killing a criminal. After all, the Christian Last Judgment supposedly requires a physical body. Burn their body and god can’t save them. Preparing a wall of flames shows just how seriously they are taking this.”
Kamijou’s entire body shrank down a bit when he heard how this was far more hostile than he had imagined.
“But there is no real reason to worry.” Aleister sounded like she was speaking to a child who had had a bad dream. “This is the best line to take. If we had tried to sneak across the surface, we would have run into a checkpoint. If we had used some kind of special magic to fly, their air defense network would have shot us down. But it seems the professionals of the Knights and Anglicans have completely forgotten that humans can fly normally. Preconceptions truly are poison to the mind. Hot-air balloons and airships were common even before the Wright Brothers.”
While holding the reins, hoodie bikini Fran leaned out from the balloon’s basket and shook the round Doppler radar tail she seemed to be sticking out toward Kamijou.
“We have passed the England-Londinium Fortress’s third wall. We should have about 60 kilometers to go. If we think of Buckingham Palace as the throne, then we’ve crossed the wall and entered the rose garden out front.”
“There is no need to rush. The way things are now, the outer wall and that open-air garden are as far as we can go. We cannot break through the solid inner gate to enter the castle.”
Kamijou Touma sounded somewhat impressed as he stared into the distance.
He might have looked like someone with a fear of heights trying to distract themselves by staring out at the horizon instead of looking down.
“That’s incredible. The aurora is out. I guess that’s what you get in Europe during December. It was snowing while I was in Russia for World War Three and when I was escaping with Othinus.”
“You are…something else. The fact that I feel so frustrated may be a sign that my identity as an educator has settled in more strongly than I expected. And I only thought of it as a way to camouflage Thelema…”
No one explained the exact conditions for viewing the aurora, such as the latitude and solar winds, so Kamijou did not notice his fundamental misunderstanding.
With the look of someone fighting a headache, girl Aleister wagged her index finger.
“That is likely the final barrier covering London.”
“This is sounding dangerous.”
“Indeed it is. The United Kingdom is a unique territory because it is a complex combination of three factions and four regions. Magical barriers are generally like walls that keep people away, but by placing triple barriers of four different types at the exact same coordinates, Barrier A’s gaps will be plugged by Barrier B and so on, creating something of a labyrinth.”
“Hey, can’t you explain this in a way I can understand?”
“There are several gigantic walls moving back and forth. If you happen to touch one of them, you will be drawn into the gap between them and crushed to death. And they are complexly tangled together like a mess of cables, so not even your Imagine Breaker could easily break through. …In fact, shattering just the surface layer would only drag you inside all the quicker.”
She actually did as asked for once. And thanks to that, Kamijou Touma felt like his heart was shrinking.
“What are we supposed to do about that?”
“Well.” Aleister nodded. “No matter how complex and bizarre this final barrier is, the British people must have a way to pass through. Perhaps not the lowly soldiers, but the – heh – chosen ones.”
“What? Please don’t tell me we’re supposed to tail a British person to learn the secret route through.”
“They would not be foolish enough to allow that, but we can hitch a ride with them. For example, if an important person was captured by the Knights, they would be taken back to London for questioning instead of being killed on the spot. After all, the infamous Tower of London is there and it is known around the world for its specialization in torture and executions.”
“What are you trying to say?”
This was no time to just ignore what she said.
But asking her to clarify may have been careless as well.
At any rate, Magician Girl Aleister answered with a wicked smile.
“I am saying we can get in if you are captured.”
He did not have time to question it.
A dull sound burst out and Kamijou’s body went limp. Since Imagine Breaker did not help, she may have used a perfectly normal high-voltage stun gun. His body wobbled and then toppled over the edge of the basket made from several layers of thick paper. He knew this was the worst possible path, but he could not stop the flow of time.
A stun gun was bad news here.
With a high-voltage current, it did not matter whether or not they were directly touching him. Index had been standing right next to him and palm-sized Othinus had been sitting on his shoulder, so what had happened to them?
Unable to cry out in protest or find an answer to his questions, Kamijou Touma dropped like an artillery shell onto a roll of dried grass left on the grasslands.
Between the Lines 1
The size was extraordinary, but how comfortable was it to ride?
Last Order, a girl who appeared to be around 10, leaned on the side deck railing of a cargo ship loaded with containers.
“Rocking…rocking on the boat…”
She tried humming an improvised song, but…
“…Ugh, now Misaka is feeling kind of sick, says Misaka as Misaka provides a self-report.”
She then began muttering “beep beep beep beep” to herself.
She had begun a form of non-verbal communication that only she could understand.
“Misaka #15151 is relaxing in Rio, reports Misaka. Yay, churrasco is the best.”
“Misaka #18000 is riding a motorcycle around Vietnam, chats Misaka while she delivers some pho for a personal online delivery service.”
“Misaka #10782 is cooking rice cakes at the Antarctic base, says Misaka while she checks if it is ready. The penguins are so cute.”
They all seemed to be having fun.
Last Order began absurdly wondering if she alone had been cursed in some way, but then…
“Hey! Staring out at the winter ocean is only going to give you a chill. Come on inside.”
The researcher named Yoshikawa Kikyou called out to her from a distance, but Last Order only waved her small hand weakly back while still leaning on the railing. Her experience in this short time had taught her that the rocking of the boat in a small area was much worse than in a wide open area.
“Ugh…” she groaned as if cursing something and she looked up into the blue sky while wrapped in a thick coat. Since she hoped staring into the distance would help, she was mostly relying on unscientific good luck charms. To be more charitable, you could say she was hoping for the placebo effect to kick in.
“Why? Why does it have to turn every which way? asks Misaka as Misaka complains. The ocean is so big, so it could always go in a straight line.”
“Because we would crash if we didn’t steer out of the way of everything in the ocean!” shouted Yoshikawa while forming a megaphone with her hands.
They were at the exit of the already cramped Tokyo Bay. They could see the giant Ferris wheel that was a symbol of Yokohama. They had a long way to go before they reached Alaska and the beautiful aurora there.
Yoshikawa looked out at the winter sea which was so rough it could have appeared in the world of enka.
What was that floating on its side there?
It was a mysterious corpse that looked like a giant fish with several human-like arms extending from its sides.
In addition to Academy City, the JSDF and the US military had facilities around Tokyo and Kanagawa, but this did not seem to be from them. Yoshikawa held a handheld wireless radio that looked somewhat like a cellphone, but since she was relying on that device that linked back to the ship’s large radio, it was clear that the lines for public broadcasts, the police, the firefighters, and even amateur transmissions were in a state of chaos, chaos, and more chaos.
…A born scientist like Yoshikawa Kikyou would never be able to imagine the life of an Onmyoudou expert like Tsuchimikado Motoharu.
And the situation here was not unique.
With 53 countries and the surrounding countries affected, you would have hard time finding any part of the globe without something going on.
Misaka Worst, a cruel-eyed girl in an ao dai, whistled next to Yoshikawa.
“Misaka was expecting the world to be torn to shreds by the leaked technology, but it’s surprisingly peaceful. How boring.”
“Well, it’s like this all around the world. Even if Academy City’s secrets cross people’s paths, there’s also the real time news about even more sensational wars. A normal person isn’t going to know how much of it is real. They’d just end up falling for some fake news mixed in with everything else.”
Of course, that would be different for someone who could tell the real information from the fake, but the only people who could do that were the experts who had been inside Academy City. For the people outside the city, Academy City was wrapped in a veil of mystery that was only partially removed during the Daihaseisai. Even if some technological information had been leaked during this chaos, they would have no way to search it out.
“Still, Academy City’s technology was the lifeblood of the world economy. And yet there are some who are encouraging this. When the economy grows unstable, it is the powerful nations that will try to make up for their losses through war. The enemies are unidentified monsters, so you can kill as many as you want without having to take any moral responsibility or worry about influencing the political power balance. …We’re going to see more countries attempting an economic recovery by using war like public works.”
“They’re free to go overboard and mass-produce deadly weapons if they want,” said Misaka Worst. “But is this war really going to last that long?”
“If they made all those preparations and the war ended right away, they would be deep in the red. Even though we don’t know why this started, so there’s always a possibility it will end just as suddenly.”
Yoshikawa raised both her hands and stretched her back.
It was the same uncomfortable feeling as calling an ambulance because your stomach hurt really, really bad only to have the pain fade away completely by the time it arrived. You did not really want to be sick, but you still prayed they would find something at the hospital. …In the same way, she did not really want this to end before she could arrive at the unobserved ends of the earth and see the aurora in Alaska. Those were her thoughts as a complex adult woman.